The Bhima Bhoi Research Chair of KISS Deemed to be University (KISS-DU) organized a National Webinar on 9th February 2021. This academic platform witnessed two erudite lectures by eminent academicians on the themes – ‘Bhima Bhoi – The Propagator of Mahima Dharma’ and ‘Reflections on Prayers of Bhima Bhoi with Special Reference to Stuti Chintamani’.
The State of Odisha has been the confluence of many religio-philosophical tenets, culminating in the Jagannath Cult. But the last few decades of the 19th century saw dominance of strict orthodox and caste-based society, leading to the neglect of aspiration of other people belonging to the lower strata of the society. At this juncture, a new religious movement emerged as Mahima Dharma propounded by Mahima Goswami. This movement gained momentum following the works of Santha Kabi (Saint Poet) Bhima Bhoi, who lent voice to the philosophical convictions in the language of the common man. His popular assertion – “mo jeevan pacche narke padi thau, jagat uddhara heu” (No matter if my life remains in Hell, let the world achieve salvation) – showcases his dedication to the upliftment of socially deprived and oppressed, while being a clear reflection of contemporary socio-economic conditions in the State. To this day, his songs (jananas and bhajans) are sung by common folk, as well as pursued with great interest by literary and culture enthusiasts.
While a few scholarly studies in Odia have been made on the philosophy and poetry of Bhima Bhoi, the Bhima Bhoi Research Chair, established at KISS Deemed to be University in April, 2018, aims to research and record the impact of this philosopher-poet on the life and literature of Odisha.
Speaking on the theme ‘Bhima Bhoi – The Propagator of Mahima Dharma’, Dr. Harihar Panda, Professor of History at National Defence Academy, Pune threw light on how Bhima Bhoi popularized Mahima Cult and said that “Stuti Chintamani” (Prayers to the Ultimate Reality) was written to free the society from the tangles of Brahminical assertions. “He is a crusader against the caste system and his teachings are simple, loved and accepted”. Bhima Bhoi strongly believed that nothing can be achieved without Guru”, Professor Panda added.
Dr. Siddharth Satapathy, Assistant Professor in English at University of Hyderabad in his deliberation drew references from his research work on the works of Bhima Bhoi said that “Stuti Chintamani is an extraordinary creation by him”. He reflected on the nature of prayers penned down by Bhima Bhoi. Elucidating the same by citing examples, he said, “Praying for grass, stones not being crushed are instances showing the amount of awareness he had on the issue of deforestation”.
Earlier, Dr. Prashanta Kumar Routray, Registrar of KISS-DU greeted the revered dignitaries and briefed them about the relevance of organizing a webinar on a topic which holds utmost importance at KISS. While sharing the objectives behind instituting four Research Chairs at KISS-DU, Dr. Routray said, “The University is laying emphasis on making the development process inclusive and sustainable for the ST and SC and the philosophy of Bhima Bhoi and the objectives of KISS are closely knit”. The ultimate goals are being achieved through education and livelihood. Professor Harekrishna Satapathy, Advisor, KISS-DU drew reference from Rig Veda, Puranas, Mahapuranas and focused on the basis on which the Indian Philosophy stands.
The webinar concluded with a formal vote of thanks by Professor Harishchandra Sahoo, Chair Professor, Bhima Bhoi Research Chair.